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Morgan Mandel's Basic Guide to Self-Publishing - Day Seven - Downloading, Proof, Acceptance, Publication

I’d set up the publishing company, registered at Lightning Source, finished my edits, gotten a cover together, set up a home for Choice One Publishing Company, and much more. I still had changes and decisions to make. They pertained to the part of the book my readers would spend the most time with – the print pages, also known as the book block.

My manuscript was double spaced, as many are, with one inch margins all around, designed for an 8 ½ by 11 inch paper. Not only did I need to reformat the page to the dimensions of my chosen size, 5 by 8, I needed to single space it, and decide on a font. Although many trade paperbacks used smaller fonts, I chose Times New Roman 12 for the same reason I’d chosen the crème paper – it seemed easier on the eyes.

I also needed to design headers. They weren’t the kind I was used to. These had to alternate, with the even numbers containing my name, the odds, the book title. Fortunately my Word program had templates I could use. The margins also needed to be wide enough, so none of the letters would be cut off in the printing process. That wasn’t all. The fonts had to be embedded, which meant saving the book in PDFX1a 2001 format. My Adobe Acrobat Pro 9, with what was called an add-in for Word 2007, achieved that result.

These rules and others were contained in a manual from the Lightning Source website, which I’d printed out and carried back and forth in my tote bag to work every day, so I could refer to it on the train and on my breaks.

Then, following the website’s guidelines, I set up my title, deciding where and when my book would be published, its price and discount rate. I couldn’t afford to be greedy or I wouldn’t make sales. I had to stay competitive, yet make some kind of profit, so I chose $13.95 with a 50% discount for booksellers.

When the book was all set to go, I proceeded to the downloading phase – first the book block, then the cover. I chose the option for a proof, since I wanted to look it all over before everything was finalized.

Although I couldn’t tell the difference, something was off with the colors and I was contacted by my representative. They looked fine on the computer, but wouldn’t print correctly. Fortunately, the color technician took pity on me and made the changes, which I gratefully approved.

When the proof arrived via overnight mail, instead of looking like a galley, it looked exactly like a real book. That was a pleasant surprise.

The colors on the front and back of the cover looked rich and beautiful, Rascal looked cute as my little mascot on the logo, but what about the interior? I proceeded to read, with my eyes open for mistakes. What I thought was perfect, wasn’t exactly right. I couldn’t allow it to go to press. I made the corrections online and waited for another proof. When I got that one, again I discovered a mistake. I’d forgotten to justify the paragraphs, so I re-sent for another proof.

It cost me $40 for each revision, plus $30 for each proof, but I was determined my book would be as perfect as I could make it. I had to convince people that my self-published book could stand up to the competition of small press and traditional press books. Finally I was satisfied with the result. I pressed the acceptance button. I placed my order.
I waited, but not long. In less than a week, the books arrived on my brother’s front porch. My husband, nieces, and nephews all helped carry the boxes out to the van. Once they sat safely in my dining room, I opened each and every one, checking to make sure I hadn’t received someone else’s books. Of course, I took pictures.

The cover looked beautiful. The pages seemed easy to read. The story was all there. Still, I felt nervous. Now that my book was published, would people like it?

So far, they have. Maybe you’d like to judge for yourself. Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter of Killer Career:

Julie McGuire gazed intently from her table in the filled-to-capacity dining room of the Wyndham Hotel. The Love To Murder Mystery Conference had saved the best for last. New York Times bestselling author, Tyler Jensen, now approached the podium.

His entire bearing commanded attention, from his shoulder length wavy chestnut hair pushed back behind his ears, to his sexy sideburns and piercing hazel eyes. She guessed him to be thirty-five, about five years older than she. Clever, rich, tall, and handsome, Tyler Jensen looked the embodiment of any woman’s fantasy.

“Many of you have killed,” Tyler said, pointing to his audience of two hundred plus.
Julie stared. What did he mean?

“Yes, you’ve slaughtered your creativity. You’ve squashed your dreams in favor of immediate gratification.”
My God, he knew. She ignored the tinkling sound, as a waitress placed a carafe of ice water on the table.

Julie stared, transfixed, at Jensen. His every word spoke to her. She’d taken the easy way out and become a lawyer instead of following her heart’s desire to be an author. The decision ate at her. After six years in the practice, she’d saved enough money to get by. She badly wanted to claim her dream and step forward into the world he described.
All too soon, he’d finished his speech. “Any questions?”

Julie shot up her hand. Jensen’s knowing hazel eyes fastened on her, as if assessing her straight blonde hair and tall, slight frame.

He nodded. “Yes, second table.”

On suddenly stiff legs, she rose. “What makes you write mysteries?”

“I have an urge to voyeuristically experience atrocities. I’ve no idea where the fascination comes from. Perhaps I was a criminal in a former life,” he said with a self-deprecating laugh.

Julie swallowed. His answer filled her with a vague uneasiness, but she didn’t know why.

“I hope I’ve satisfactorily answered your question.”

“Yes, uh, thank you.” She straightened her skirt and seated herself.

Even as she sat gathering her thoughts, she felt the pull of his charisma. Every word and gesture hinted at a barely contained power, strong enough to transform the sturdiest dissenter into a willing robot. His rakish looks dared her to ignore her orderly upbringing. Inwardly smiling, Julie guesstimated at how many other women in the massive banquet hall were as enthralled by the man’s knowledgeable gaze. Did their blood pulse as fast as hers?

The only man who’d ever tweaked her interest to such a degree was her partner, “Dangerous Dade.” He was the one who’d convinced her to become a lawyer, saying it was the best way to escape the poverty of their blighted neighborhood. He was her standard for comparing other men.

More than one female client had cited Dade as a good catch. Julie had to admit they were right. It wasn’t only because he was six feet tall, with wide shoulders and a determined air. Dade also had a special knack for putting clients at ease with his genuine interest in their problems, as he competently protected their interests. He was a sweet guy and would make some lucky woman a great husband. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be her. From the start of their partnership, they’d agreed not to mix business with pleasure, a decision she sometimes regretted.

Jensen’s charisma proved strong enough to break through her long-held barriers of comparison. Was it her imagination, or did he glance at her table more than the others? Was the strange feeling inside of her obvious or even more absurd, could it be mutual?

For such a levelheaded attorney, she’d certainly flipped. It had to be technique. Tyler Jensen was an excellent speaker, adept at eye contact.

“How does writing from a criminal’s point-of-view make you feel,” a woman at a table across the room asked.

An excellent query. Julie leaned forward to hear the reply. In his books, Jensen delved at length into the villain’s viewpoint, as if entering the criminal’s mind. The effect was chilling, but compelling.

She held her breath for the answer.

Jensen stared at Julie instead of the questioner, as if sensing her enthrallment. “I am the villain. I completely lose myself. The animal inside of me rules. I get away with anything and everything.” A tight smile curved his sensuous lips. “You know what they say. The forbidden carries allure. Anyway, when my sanity returns, I’m sated. I’ve undergone a complete catharsis. There’s no experience like it.”

Julie sat rooted, feeling another trickle of uneasiness.

If you’d like to read more, it’s available at favorite bookstores, such as Barnes & Noble, at,,, and will soon come to Kindle.

Thanks for letting me share my self-publishing adventure with you. If you'd like to keep up with my self-publishing exploits and more, you're welcome to stop by my personal blog at

You can find a short Book Trailer I just put together on YouTube at

Morgan Mandel

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  1. Thanks for sharing this journey with us, Morgan. I'm sure it will help a lot of people to go the self-pub route the way you did with more ease now. Loved the excerpt, too. :)

    Marvin D Wilson

  2. Thanks, Marvin.
    I'm glad you liked the excerpt.
    Morgan Mandel

  3. This has been a very productive tour. As loco busy as I've been these past couple weeks, I've taken the time to at least scan your blogs and have read many in detail such as today's.

    I'm definately saving the link to your tour so I can review the material next week once the dust settles on my end.

    Stephen Tremp

  4. Thank you for this informative series. I'm not there yet, but I'll definitely keep a link handy . . . I have no idea yet which route to take!

  5. Self-publishing isn't for everyone, but the main thing to remember is it can be done and done right.

    Morgan Mandel

  6. My admiration for you has increased each day of this series. How you figured out all of this, then did it is mind-boggling. Even after getting step-by-step advice from you, I'm not sure I could do it. Wow.

    Straight From Hel

  7. How you could stand to read the LS manual on the train to work is really admirable! Talk about dedication. And your comments about change charges explains perhaps, why so many published books slide through with errors. If a company doesn't have good editors, they pay out-the-nose if they have several rounds of changes on each title. If the publisher is already strapped for cash... well, you can see the issues.

    The excerpt is a cliffhanger - eeek!

    Good job, and thanks for all the time you put into this, Morgan.


  8. This has been an excellent series, Morgan. I not only tweeted it out several times, but also mentioned it on the Yahoo! Group for Northern Colorado Writers as many of our members have self-published or are interested in doing so. Thanks for doing this.

  9. A job well done, Morgan! Congrats again!

  10. Thanks again for sharing your journey and all you learned from the experience, Morgan. This has been a most helpful series.

    Wishing you much success with Killer Career.

  11. Thanks for the sneak peeks, Morgan. I read most of your posts, and appreciate getting that bird's eye view of what it takes to self-publish. Certainly more than I thought it would.

  12. The story is very intriguing! Thanks for the excerpt. I really appreciate the insight you've given us into self-publishing. It sounds like you did a splendid job. I hope your sales soar!

    I will come back to this in the future, as I near that stage. Could you maybe give us some idea as to the total costs you incurred? Starting out, it would be a huge investment for me, as I live on a pension that has just been taken over by the gov't. (Yes, that stuff is real.) Being in this situation, though, tends to make me want the time advantage in self-publishing.

    Thanks again for the great information.


  13. Oh yeah, can't wait to read the book!

  14. Morgan,

    I'm amazed you could create the interior of the book in Word. I use InDesign to layout books for my clients who self-publish. I have never been able to get them to look right in Word.

    Thanks so much for sharing your self-publishing journey. Although I've never self-published my own books, most of my clients do self-publish. I help them with all aspects of the process so I know how complex it can be.

    I've been an advocate of self-publishing for a long time, and I'm glad to see your shining example. You've shown how to do it right.

    Lillie Ammann
    A Writer's Words, An Editor's Eye

  15. Anyone who wants to know costs can get a rough idea at the

    You have to figure in the costs of software also, if you don't have it.

    I'd say it was roughly $1500.00 for the 300 books, the set up fee, the software, 3 revisions, the County papers,etc. I got the 30% volume discount at Lightning Source. LSI has different promotions to watch for. You don't have to buy that many books, but the publisher gets more from direct sales than from store sales. I have a 50% discount for booksellers, many publishers offer 55%. For book stores, I clear $2 plus. By myself, I clear about $9.

    Morgan Mandel

  16. Thank you for the cost info. I'm not near the point of publishing, but I've saved this link for when that day arrives. That seems like a do-able amount for $300 books, plus all the other costs you listed.

    Thanks again for taking the time to enlighten us!

  17. And all the Blood-Red editors are going to relentlessly nag Morgan to put together a more detailed eBook. You've written the bones already, gal. I think there are plenty of authors who would buy an eBook describing this process.


  18. That ebook - I'll need to figure out which formats to put it in. I wish there was one for all of them. It would be so much easier. When I get back from vacation Wednesday after Labor Day, I'll have to work on it.

    I still have to figure out how to do the html on kindle for Killer Career. I thought the conversion from pdf would handle everything, but then found out the paragraphs were some indented, some not. It's apparently a common thing, because there was a button to click to get the html to fix formatting. Trouble is, I have to figure that out now. The learning curve keeps getting wider.

    Morgan Mandel

  19. Thanks, everyone, for your wonderful response to my self-pub series.

    Morgan Mandel

  20. Congratulations on a huge accomplishment, Morgan! You've taken on a difficult task and done it well.

    Bob Sanchez

  21. Thanks for this great series of posts. I've been reading through them with interest, as I'm in the final stages of formatting my own novel for upload to LSI(have everything else setup).

    I'm just curious about the 50% discount, though ... did that really open up a lot of markets? I can go as low as a 25% discount, so why would I offer 50? That's giving a whole lot of money.

    I'm thinking in terms of going 25%, which I know will limit it to online only (but what are my chances it will get to a bookstore? I realize you did, but isn't that the exception?) but it allows me to keep my price down to about $11 a book and still be profitable.

    Thanks again for the great series!

  22. Since your books were manufactured by POD-er Lightning Source, why did you order boxes of books instead of having LS print and ship them as orders come in?

    Michael N. Marcus

    author of "Become a Real Self-Publisher" due in September.

  23. Thanks again Morgan,

    This has been a great series. Now I'm waiting for that e-book.


  24. Morgan, you can just format as a Word file and sell it as a download through Clickbank -nothing fancy schmancy. That's how the Web 2.0 gurus sell their how-to products. Tiffany Dow has eBooks that she sells that explains the whole shebang.


  25. What a great series. And it sounds like a great book too. Thank you.

  26. As for the discount question, the going rate discount to booksellers is 55%. To stay competitive, you need to at least come close to that or they'll pick someone with a book with the discount instead.

    As far as ordering my books in, I use those for places I go where I need books on hand, such as flea markets, craft fairs, small bookstores that prefer consignment. Selling the books by hand is the most profitable, also, especially at places like fairs where the booth price is low, or you split the booth cost with other writers. They you're only paying for the printing cost and shipping cost to you.

    Store sales are also good for exposure and impulse shoppers. There's a greater possibility of volume sales at the larger stores if the book catches on. That's what I'm hoping for.

    About that ebook, Dani, I'll need to look into that after Labor Day vacation. Please remind me if I get another senior moment. (g)

    Morgan Mandel

  27. Michael asked why I don't have LS print and ship books as orders come in. I never say never. I've considered doing that in the future, but for now I'm taking it one step at a time and am having the books distributed by places such as Amazon and at bookstores.

    I'm not sure if I can handle the orders part along with my full time job. I'd probably set up something like Paypal if I did.

    Then there's the question of finding time to write. It doesn't happen as often lately.

    Morgan Mandel

  28. I enjoyed all seven days of this helpful Basic Guide to Self-Publishing. One thing you mentioned that might help a lot of writers -- whether they are intending to self-publish or go with a traditional publisher -- is seeing your book in its final format. Regardless of how much you proof a book, you are going to miss something. Just as you can find additional mistakes when you go from your monitor to a hard copy, you will see your book differently (and more accurately) when it is printed in a marketable format. Lulu will allow you to publish only one book and never make the book public. It can be the best 20 bucks you will spend during the editing process.

  29. Thanks, Joe.
    Yes, somehow it does make a difference when you see what the final product will look like. Hopefully, I've caught all the boo-boos by now, but it's still amazing how many can slip by after so many edits.

    Morgan Mandel


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